A delve into the FIFA U-17 World Cup annals shows the same
handful of names cropping up time and again, a clutch of teams
possessing a virtual season ticket for the tournament, and who have
invariably come away with the trophy at least once. Their number
includes Ghana, making their eighth finals' appearance in Korea
The Black Starlets claimed their first trophy success at the 1991 event in Italy, repeating their triumph four years later in Ecuador. This impressive track record, and third place at the CAF U-17 African Championship earlier this year, mean the Ghanaians will not be lacking in self-belief when they run out at the Cheonan Sports Complex on Monday for their opening Group F match against Trinidad and Tobago.
Nevertheless, coach Sellas Tetteh Teivi warned his team against over-confidence ahead of the meeting with the underdogs. "Obviously, we want to make a good impression and go as far as we can. My lads are keen to show what they can do," the seasoned coach told FIFA.com. "It'll be a difficult match. Everyone wants to make a good start and get through to the next round. But we've prepared well. Victory in our first match would be a real boost for my lads."
On paper at least, an opening day win for the Africans looks a matter of vital import given the stiff competition in Group F. If they are to reach the Round of 16, the Black Starlets will have to negotiate a way round the might of Colombia and Germany. "Some people have called this the 'Group of Death', and they're right. We have to make a good start," Sellas Tetteh Teivi reflected.
Black Stars as role models
The Ghana coach knows precisely what it takes to succeed at a major tournament, as he was assistant coach to the senior national team at the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™. The Black Stars earned ringing applause from around the world for a string of dazzling displays, and made it to the last sixteen on their very first foray into the FIFA World Cup finals.
"I sat on the bench back then and saw what you can achieve. Obviously, it would be tremendous if my lads managed something similar, or even went one better. That's what I'm hoping we can achieve," the likeable coach commented.
His players similarly regard the highly-rated Black Stars as role models. "The likes of Stephen Appiah, Michael Essien and Sulley Muntari are our idols. We want to follow in their footsteps," captain Paul Addo declared in a FIFA.com interview.
The young Fair Point defender is suitably fired up for the opener against Trinidad and Tobago. "It's just fantastic being at this World Cup," Addo remarked. "Obviously I'm thrilled and delighted to be playing on behalf of my country and representing the nation to the best of my ability. A good start is very important at a World Cup. We're highly motivated and extremely well prepared." Monday evening provides the first opportunity for the Black Starlets to begin emulating the glittering exploits of their senior counterparts.